Why Team Fails Essay

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Why Teams Fail Stephen R. Balzac In today’s high-tech workplace, it is virtually impossible to not be part of a team. Projects are too big, too complex, too involved for a single person to do it all. Yet far too often people find teamwork to be frustrating and exhausting. Even when the team successfully ships a product, team members often feel burned out, frustrated, or surprisingly unhappy with their accomplishment. Many managers have heard of the four stages of team development: Forming, Storming, Norming, and Performing. What is not as well known is the importance of that early, forming stage. During this phase, team members determine whether or not they feel emotionally and intellectually safe working with one another; they develop a sense of group identity, or remain a collection of individuals. There’s an old saying that a couple isn’t really married until they’ve had their first fight. The same is true of teams. Part of working together involves arguing with coworkers: put any group of people together, and they are bound to have their own approaches and solutions to problems. If team members feel unable or unwilling to argue with one another, they avoid any conflict. If they are forced to argue but haven’t developed effective means for conflict management, the argument can quickly turn personal. In either case, the exchange of thoughts and ideas is blocked, anger builds, tension mounts, and the ability of team members to work together is severely compromised. Instead of developing group identity, team members may become convinced that their best strategy is maximizing personal gain instead of team performance. The problems are exacerbated when the leader’s expertise is not management but engineering. There is a persistent, and ultimately painful, myth that engineers will only respect another engineer. Unfortunately, the very personality traits and skills that

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